By Arunima Fatehpuria
Call it freshman adrenaline, but when I was first offered the opportunity to visit Rock Creek, I jumped at it. Having spent the last few weeks huddled indoors, frantically trying to navigate my way through the mountains of homework, an afternoon spent boating was a welcome change.
So, Caryn McKenchie ’18, Joel Katticaran ’18, Sriyash Prajval Kadiyala ’21 and I piled into a car and started on the seven mile journey to Rock Creek. The scenery outside changed quickly as we rattled down the road. It was a beautiful day and, within minutes, we were in the midst of rolling cornfields. I could hardly believe my eyes when we reached the creek. Surrounded by lush greenery on all sides, with birds chirping and flying over us, it seemed so different from Grinnell College’s campus. It was hard to comprehend that such a place existed so close to the College, where the Iowa topography appears nothing but flat.
“I would not have believed a place like this existed in Grinnell,” Kadiyala confirmed.
We rented a motorboat and set out on our adventure. The lake itself was circled with trees and wildflowers and, as we went deeper, we started to spot wildlife along the edges of the forested areas — we even caught a glimpse of some deer drinking from the lake! Amidst the calm water, the only hubbub being the fish popping in and out and the birds flying over us, I felt at peace. Katticaran drove the boat to several of his favorite haunts, where the water was the most still. We spotted many different bird species and three deer on the bank. The deer gracefully ran when we approached, the sound of the motor giving away our presence.
Not only did I enjoy an afternoon at Rock Creek, but I talked with Sue Thompson, the person who rented us our boat. For Thompson, Rock Creek has been her second home for twenty years. She has worked there since 1997, she told me, and has many fond memories.
“My fondest memory of the lake is time spent with family and friends. I have my grandkids here with me most of the summer. They have the opportunity to fish, take out pedal boats and kayaks, enjoy the wildlife (frogs, crawdads, etc.). I have met so many wonderful people out here!” Thompson wrote in an email to The S&B.
Additionally, Thompson once owned a horse. “One of my favorite things to do was to ride her around the lake. There is a multi-use trail, which is open to horses, bicycles and walking.”
When asked what most attracted Thompson to the park, she commented, “I enjoy the wildlife. I like to take pictures of frogs and the many species of birds which frequent our area. I also enjoy the sounds of the lake. The sound of the cicadas could lull me to sleep.”
Thompson also told me about the many outdoor activities people can engage in at Rock Creek, including “the swimming beach, multi-use trails, camping, fishing, bird watching, picnicking and, of course, boat rentals.” One can also rent shelters and cook on the “grills scattered about the park for day users,” Thompson said.
I also spoke with Katticaran about his penchant for boating at Rock Creek. For Joel Katticaran, Rock Creek has been a relaxing environment which offers some respite from the busy college atmosphere. He found out about Rock Creek when he went for a GORP canoeing activity there his first year. However, he says, “getting the equipment from GORP and transporting it there was quite a hassle.” Though he enjoyed the trip, he did not make the journey out there very frequently, until this past summer, when he lived in Grinnell. He started going more often when he found out that one could rent boats there. When asked his favorite thing to do at Rock Creek, Katticaran said, “renting a boat and reading while listening to the birds and fish.”
“I don’t think college students know how easy it is to rent stuff [at Rock Creek]. If I had known how easy it was to rent boats here, I would’ve done this every weekend for the last four years,” Katticaran stated.
Rock Creek is a great place to go to unwind. With gorgeous landscapes and an array of activities, it offers something for everyone. On our way back to the pier, we caught the sunset. The sky was illuminated with shades of red and orange. I started planning my next trip to Rock Creek as soon as we got out of the boat.